- Many European countries are struggling with a resurgence of the virus, and people are in a state of flux if a lockdown will be implemented or not.
- COVID-19 has already done severe damage across countries that implemented lockdowns as well as those that adopted a lighter approach like Sweden.
- The spread of the disease seems more controlled, and healthcare systems are better prepared to tackle the outbreak of COVID-19.
- While Governments are presently avoiding considering lockdown, citizens need to act more responsibly to keep the spread of the disease under control.
After being severely hit by the initial wave of COVID-19 and gradually curbing the outbreak, many countries across Europe are again experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Presently, countries like France, the UK, Spain and Germany are witnessing rising fatalities from the disease. However, the current number of the second wave of infections reported stand far away from the levels recorded earlier when the COVID-19 emerged.
Globally, health experts and officials had warned of a second wave of COVID-19 infections and that necessary precautionary measures need to be in place to avoid the same.
As cases declined initially, economies had re-opened gradually with mandatory social distancing measures in place. However, it seems that the measures were not implemented effectively as the vast majority of countries are declaring more cases each day at present as compared to what they were reporting during the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
While these increasing number of cases could mean more people are getting infected, this could also mean a greater number of cases being identified across the regions through increasing testing ability.
Initial Outbreak and the Challenging Scenario
As the COVID-19 emerged across the European nations, Sweden’s way of tackling the disease became a centre of controversy. On the one hand, where more and more European nations were approving of implementing severe lockdown, Sweden looked for lighter and indifferent ways of tackling the disease that sparked outrage among people.
As a result, Sweden witnessed higher fatality rate and a smaller hit to the economy as compared to most of the European countries.
Fast-forwarding to the present scenario; many European countries are opting for strict measures across regions with negative outbreaks. However, countries still seem hesitant to make a significantly heavy crackdown through social distancing measures, as was the case during the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
As Governments fear risking economy and losing public finances, they are caught in the middle of the dilemma to keep the economy alive and people safe from COVID-19 infection.
Moreover, the Government’s effectiveness in curbing the spread of the disease is playing a vital role in elections that are taking place across several nations. New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern claimed a historic victory in recent New Zealand election on the back of her leadership in handling the pandemic.
Now, all eyes are glued to the US Presidential elections, where heated debates are taking place, and the opposition is pinpointing the inefficiency of Trump Administration in handling the pandemic as well as running the economy.
So, how are these countries responding to the second wave of COVID-19 infections?
Most of the European countries are stepping away from stringent measures like the ones implemented during the outbreak of the disease. Egypt, on Sunday night, chose to keep bars, restaurants, gyms as well as barbershops open, notwithstanding the growth in the number of infections.
In France too, the Government doesn’t seem to be in favour of another national lockdown and is inclined towards targeted closures limited to certain area or city.
Spain is one of the severely hit European countries going through the second wave of infections. The Spanish Government has tightened the measures curbing non-essential movement in some areas like Madrid. However, Spain is also avoiding a national level lockdown or stringent measures.
The Governments are following a more controlled approach in an attempt to balance the loss to the economy and reducing the risk of infections.
Why a soft approach?
The Governments are opting for a softer approach at present as the current spread of infections is more controlled as compared to the initial outbreak. Although the number of infections and deaths are rising, yet these are quite less than before.
For example, over 4,000 patients in Italy were hospitalised in the ICU when COVID spread was at its peak. However, this number is significantly low in the current spread of the disease. Moreover, health care authorities are carrying out a greater number of tests as compared to March-April and have levelled up in terms of equipment and preparedness.
Moreover, lockdowns might not be a good idea at a time when economies are still suffering, and the majority of the population is growing psychologically tired of staying indoors.
Still, the Spanish Government might consider another lockdown as an effective measure as cases are rising exponentially nationally. But the number of cases along with hospitalisations has gone down in Madrid.
Apart from Lockdown, WHO had insisted that contact tracing systems are an effective tool in the fight against the COVID-19, it looks like systems that track and trace (contact tracing systems) the spread of COVID-19 has been unable to contribute much to stop the spread of the virus.
Going forward, Europe is entering winter season (holiday) where people gather indoors, and there are chances for the virus to spread at a mass level. As the Governments cannot afford another lockdown or even stringent economy-wide measures, people are expected to act responsibly and voluntarily follow social distancing norms.
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